Have A Seat

In 2013 as part of my council campaign I took my couch from home and parked up at various places around town to meet people and hand out flyers. I did this because I felt strongly that if I was going to be talking about better community engagement then I should most definitely be practicing what I preach.

For me community engagement is still my number one priority so this year as part of my 2016 campaign I will be doing the same thing – not quite with a couch – but you are sure to see my orange bean bag chairs! (And they are surprisingly comfy too).

So here is a bit of a programme of the places I have locked in so far – and please if you would like me to come and see you or your community or group please send me a message and we can make it happen.

Wed 24 Aug 1-2pm Grand Hotel20160822_230552

Sat 27 Aug 10.30-1.30 Glengarry Community Market

Tues 30 Aug 12.30-1.30 South City Mall

Wed 31 Aug 12.30-1.30pm Esk St end of Cambridge Place Arcade

Sun 4 Sept 9.30-12.30 Southern Farmers Market

Tues 6th Sept 1.45-2.45pm Glengarry Shopping Centre

Friday 9th Sept 1-2pm Windsor Shopping Centre outside Compleat

Tues 13 Sept 1.15-2.15pm TBC

Wed 14 Sept 1-3pm Bluff, outside the Four Square

Sat 17 Sept TBC

Sun 18 9.30-12.30pm Southern Farmers Market

Mon 19 Sept 2.15-3.15 Windsor Shopping Centre

Tues 20 Sept 1.15-2.15 South City Mall

Wed 21 Sept 1-2pm Esk St end of Cambridge Place Arcade

Sat 24 Sept Glengarry Community Market




Heritage Snapshot

I feel strongly that heritage is one of this city’s biggest assets. In particular I think our heritage buildings need a special focus. I acknowledge that it will be difficult to keep them all. In some cases we may be able to retain facades only. In other cases we may not be able save a building at all. Our buildings are often taken for granted by us, but their value can be seen when you watch tourists stand in the middle of the road to take photos of them.

I believe we should enhance this value by providing a better experience around our heritage buildings. This could be done on the street with signage and information and I think that the Dee St buildings could provide a good walking link between the inner city and Queens Park. Technology could also be used as part of this.

Candidate Night at the Wool Bar

Last night 24 of the 33 candidates for ICC came along to the Wool Bar Community Space to present in 3 minutes why they are running for council.

I was impressed with the calibre and passion of the candidates and it was great to see such diversity among the candidates in terms of age, gender as well as point of view. As I recall none of the candidates said they were standing because of or in spite of the mayoral candidates ūüôā

It is a real shame there are not going to be many other opportunities for the candidates to speak publicly this is especially so because one of the main reasons people don’t vote is because they feel they don’t know enough about the candidates.

Social media will hopefully provide a good vehicle for candidates to to make sure their community knows about them. But as voters we all need to share this information with our friends and family too so they have information to make informed choices and are encouraged to vote.

I have said it before and I will say it again, local government is where you can influence your own community and I encourage everyone to check out the candidates and vote for those who you think will best represent you in council and best make this city the kind of place you want to live in.

Each of us get 12 votes so you can choose up to 12 people who you think will make a difference for you in the next 3 years. You also don’t have to vote for all 12 in fact some would argue just vote for the people you really want on there.


Why me?

Over the next few months there is going to be a focus on the local government elections – and so there should be. Voter turn out in 2013 was only about 40% – we really need to improve on that. So now nominations have closed and we know who we get to vote for. http://icc.govt.nz/election-nomination-updates/

Voting papers aren’t sent out til mid September. We should be using this time to find out what we can about the candidates so we can decide if they should get our vote or not.

I have put together a bit of information about me, what I want for this city, why you might consider voting for me, what my skills are and what I stand for. I am more than happy to meet for a chat if anyone wants to know more. Over the next few weeks I will elaborate a bit more on some of the things I stand for.

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Decision Making Processes Research


The research which this article refers to is a valuable tool for the council, far more valuable than than this article implies. Its real value for me is that it provides a baseline for where we are at with how we engage with the community at this point in time. This means we can track our improvement over the next few years.

A few stand out stats for me were:

  1. 17% of people were not aware of anyway in which to engage with the council; while 45% said social media was a way to engage
  2. Frightening but 70% of participants had never engaged with the council in any way, of those who had engaged with council – 25% had used social media (that was the highest)
  3. In terms of what people thought was the best way to engage with council, the highest was 78% social media followed closely by 74% contact with councillors.
  4. Participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with the opportunity to participate in the council decision making process – 34% were satisfied or very satisfied, 42% were neutral and 25% dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Obviously social media is going to be an important tool for engaging with the community and I am sure its value will increase in time especially with that 70% of people who have never engaged with the council! I think when we learn how to use the tools we have better we will easily improve the level of satisfaction people have with their participation in decision making and get more people engaging too. Of course the flow on effect of that is that the expectations around engagement will also increase. This is why we need an engagement strategy which is something I have been advocating for since I first stood for council and we will hopefully make some progress on soon.

People don’t always get what I mean when I talk about community engagement – some people think I just mean do more submissions on stuff. That’s not what I mean at all. Quality community engagement is about taking a design thinking approach to decision making. Design thinking is about working with the customer as you develop your product so that you develop something the customer actually wants. That’s the essence of it anyway and I am sure you can see why that makes sense for council to use it in their decision making.


The week that was

I get lots of questions about what a councillor does. As a councillor the main tasks include a lot of reading and thinking about things in that reading and deciding what you think about it. The decisions themselves happen at meetings and are done through voting. The other main bit of being a councillor is talking to people about issues and things that they would like to know more about.

There are lots of other things that happen from week to week too and you never quite know what might come up.

Here are a few highlights of this last week.

On Monday I helped answer the phone for the poll about the better Local Services Amendment. Councils all over the country are concerned about the amendment because it appears to take away the community from the decision making process around amalgamation and the forming of CCOs.

I have seen lots of comments about how little say the community has when it comes to council things already so does it really matter. Fair call. For various reasons councils don’t engage that well with their communities. One of the reasons for this is that the legislated process has become the only tool used often and this tool is not the best option in these changing times.

So this term I have been trying to encourage better engagement and the council has made some great progress. I would argue that we need to give this progress a chance to grow and develop.

20160802_121711On Tuesday I got to visit Tiwai with the Bluff Community Board. They visit Tiwai every year to hear how things are going but this is the  first time I have been able to attend. It was pretty interesting to visit and see the pot lines.

We also had full council on Tuesday where Councillor Neil Boniface and I presented a report on social housing following a meeting held in July about the issue.

Wednesday was a pretty council free day actually. I had a meeting with our office manager at ArchDraught to discuss accounts and systems as they had attended the Venture Southland Lean Management seminar that day.

I also attended our writers group Southern Scribes which I was involved in starting in 2008. We have had many people come and go from the group over the years but just recently we have had an influx of new members which is exciting. Now there are 12 of us who meet fortnightly to discuss our writing projects and support each other.

Thursday is one of two days I usually work for the Southland Oral History Project. This project has been going for ten years this year and we are working on an audio cd of about 50 extracts from our collection of over 300 interviews. We plan to distribute the cd to rest homes in early September.
On Friday I did some last minute shopping for Kurtis’ 14th birthday which was Saturday. I had a chat with the history curator at SMAG about the¬†Grand Research Project. I wanted to make sure that if we were gathering information to use to create an exhibition we were doing it properly and were not missing anything.

On Friday night I managed a quick drink at the Invercargill Club with friends before heading to the first night of Theatrefest. I love Theatrefest because it has a number of short plays and they are locally produced and often include young people. Friday included a comedy, a Shakespeare extract, a play by Anton Chekhov and another play about Santa.

Saturday was Kurtis’ birthday so we took him and two friends to Queenstown for some luge and go carting adventures. While the three teenagers went up the gondola by themselves, Phil went off to look at some work and I sat in the Bespoke Kitchen and ate some paleo treats and drunk peppermint tea. IMG_20160806_114502And truth be told did a bit of election campaign planning which has to be done this time of year.

So that was the week that was.

Who knows what next week will hold.